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Authentic Vietnamese recipes from the Motherland

Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting

The best strawberries are the ones you grow yourself. They taste incredibly sweeter with a firmer texture than store-bought strawberries. The ones I grow are super tiny, but they are packed with great strawberry flavor. Every day during the summer, I harvest strawberries as soon as they ripen because I learned that if I don't get to them first, other critters will. Sometimes there are way too many strawberries to eat at once so I usually cook them down into a thick sauce and store it for future use in various desserts.

Strawberry cupcakes with strawberry cream cheese frosting, topped with chocolate-covered strawberries

Strawberry cupcakes with strawberry cream cheese frosting, topped with chocolate-covered strawberries

One of the favorite strawberry desserts is strawberry cupcakes. They are tasty summer time treats. When baked with fresh sweet strawberries from the garden, they taste even better. I would load my cupcake batter with strawberry puree and chopped fresh strawberries to get that intense strawberry flavor. In addition to fresh strawberries, I use strawberry extract or flavoring but in very small amounts. Usually the extract or flavoring is for the aroma, and not at all for taste.

Strawberries from the garden

Strawberries from the garden

I like to couple my strawberry cupcakes with strawberry frosting. I find that to achieve a fruit flavored cupcake, you have to really pack in the flavor because once baked, some of that flavor in the cupcakes will disappear. To bring out the strawberry flavor even more, I use the same flavor for the frosting. Now for the frosting, you can't use fresh strawberries or a large amount of strawberry puree as it will make the frosting runny. Like most acidic fruit frosting, you have to stay away from the fresh products. To achieve my strawberry flavor frosting without the risk of a runny mess, I use freeze-dried strawberries. I grind them to a fine powder then add them to the frosting.

Instead of milk to thin out my frosting, I use a bit of very thick strawberry puree. The small amount of strawberry puree helps to get the desired consistency with more strawberry flavor without liquefying the frosting. When using puree in frosting, make sure that all the water is cooked out and also make sure it is completely chilled before use. I had many times rushed and didn't chill my puree long enough before use. It was a runny horrible mess.

Strawberry Cupcake Recipe

Recipe adapted from Cooking Classy

Makes about 15 standard size cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 15 medium-sized fresh strawberries
  • 1-2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated white sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk or 1 teaspoon lemon juice plus enough milk to make 1/4 cup
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon strawberry extract or flavoring (optional)

Instructions

  1. Prepare the strawberry puree. Dice up the fresh strawberries. Transfer to a small sauce pan. Do not add water and do not cover with lid. Heat on medium low. Mix occasionally to avoid burning the bottom of the pan. Let the strawberries reduce to a nice thick sauce (about 1/3 of the original liquid). Discard the froth that bubbles to the top to avoid overflowing. Measure out 1/2 cup of strawberry puree and set aside.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Set aside.
  3. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Occasionally stop and scrap down the sides of the bowl as necessary. 
  4. Add egg and egg whites one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  5. Add buttermilk (or lemon juice plus milk), vanilla extract, strawberry extract or flavoring (optional), and strawberry puree. Mix until just combined.
  6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and fill cupcake liners 3/4 full. Bake about 20-25 minutes until toothpick inserted in the center of each cupcakes comes out clean. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting. 
Cook down fresh strawberries to make strawberry puree

Cook down fresh strawberries to make strawberry puree

Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe

Recipe adapted from Wicked Good Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3-1/2 to 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 cups freeze-dried strawberries (grind to powder in a food processor)
  • 1 tablespoon chilled and thick strawberry puree (about 1 cup fresh strawberries cooked down into a paste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon strawberry extract or flavoring (optional)

Instructions

  1. Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes)
  2. Add the cream cheese and beat until combined and fluffy.
  3. Gradually add powdered sugar and mix on low until combined. Scrape down the sides of bowl as necessary with a rubber spatula. 
  4. Add the vanilla extract, freeze-dried strawberry powder and strawberry extract/flavoring (optional). Mix until light and fluffy.
  5. Add strawberry puree to thin out the frosting to the desired consistency. Add a little at a time because too much puree can make your frosting runny.
  6.  Pipe onto cupcakes with desired tip.
Strawberry cupcakes with strawberry cream cheese frosting

Strawberry cupcakes with strawberry cream cheese frosting